I smile and giggle as Ruben chased me around the lake. Now, the lake is in the park near our house. Ruben and I like to go there just to have fun.
And this probably the last fun we are going to get before it starts snowing. When it starts snowing, we have to stay inside most of the time, otherwise we might get sick, mama says.
Ruben catches up to me, and grabs me around the waist, lifting me of the ground. I squeal and demand to be put down.
"Nope," Ruben replies and swings me around in the air.
I enjoy this, and Ruben knows it, although I always say that I don't.
Eventually, Ruben puts me down and I run to the swings, the bitterly cold winds stirring up.
"Come on, Charlie! We have to get home!" Ruben calls, so I whirl around, and we race each other through the park, across the street to our house.
We arrive there just as the first few snowflakes fall.
What was a sunny day a few minutes ago has turned into a White Christmas, a phrase I heard from papa.
Ruben flings open the wooden door and hurries me inside before shutting and bolting it.
"You sure took your time," papa says without looking up from his book.
"That's 'cuz I was collecting some stuff," I said, dragging out the 'f' sound.
Papa looks up.
"What kind of stuff?"
"For our Christmas tree!"
I pull out a daisy chain (or tinsel, as I like to call it) I made at the park before Ruben started chasing me and some red petals (or ornamenas, or whatever they're called) I had found on the ground by the rose bush.
Papa smiled and nodded, and I bounced over to our Christmas tree and put all of the decorations on, and then I hurried upstairs to do my homework.
I smile sadly as Charlie hangs the petals and daisy chain on our tiny Christmas tree and bounds happily up the stairs to do her homework.
I sigh and flop down in front of the fireplace, letting the heat radiate. I closed my eyes, wondering how Charlie could be so happy.
Our house, if you can call it that, is located in an alleyway. The windows are broken, the door is decomposing and the house creaks every time someone moves or the wind hollers outside.
Papa was able to fix the windows and replaces the door every now and then, but it's just not the same.
I wish we could be like the other kids who have new houses, with televisions and heaters and computers and mobile phones.
The only phone we have is a landline. And even that is only for important business – we can't afford to spend hours talking nonsense on the phone like all the other kids can.
I don't know much, but what I do know is that, 5 years ago, we got kicked out of our nice, cosy house and were forced to live here; otherwise we'd be out on the streets.
Charlie was only 2 at the time, so there's no way she can remember, but I was 8, and I remember it like it was yesterday.
Our Christmas tree is a tiny plastic one papa made in his spare time. We don't have tinsel, and ball balls or stars or angels or any ornaments that the other kids do.
I squeeze my eyes shut and try to push those thoughts aside, but it's not easy when you have to live the same way every day – wake up, eat oats (or something similar) for breakfast, go to school, get picked on, come home, do homework, eat dinner, family time, bed.
You do learn to be grateful, but it's easy to get jealous when you see all the other cool stuff the other kids get.
"Ruben Matthew Jacobs," my papa's firm voice snapped me out of my thoughts.
I turn my head and face him.
"Go to bed, or do I have to force you?"
I sigh and get up. I've been forced to bed once by papa, and it was not pleasant.
I trudge up the stairs and do all that stuff you do when you get ready for bed.
I flop down onto my mattress, and stare at the ceiling for what seems to be an eternity before finally drifting off to sleep.
Hello, my wonderful readers! Just a note before we get down to business. I will not be updating my Sugar Rush story anytime soon - I'll be too busy working on this.
Anyway, this is my Christmas story! Yes, it will be a tear jerker, so don't forget your box of Kleenex. But it'll be good, I promise (if it's not, well, there's not much I can do about it - you're just going to have to live with it)